Hooniverse Asks- What's Your Best Move?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmfB4caKAcc[/youtube]
One of the coolest guys in the movies or on TV has got to be James Garner. I mean, how many people have a driving move named after their TV character? While many a Firebird owner – as exemplified by the guy in the video above – would like to master the technique, few are able to achieve the fluidity and grace of the stunt people on Garner’s ’70s-era detective dramady. But, what can you do?
Are you a master at parallel parking? Does your narrow driveway backing ability cause women to fan themselves and children to request your autograph? How about on the track? Do you hold a fastest lap in LeMons or at the local go-kart circuit? What justifies your getting mad props?
Did you ever see that Robin Williams movie where he played a priest giving prenuptial tests to couples – including that guy from The Office and smoking hot Mandy Moore? No? Well, don’t feel bad, nobody did. But there’s a scene in that flick where smoking hot Mandy Moore manages to slide a Chevy Corsica into a parking space between two parked cars – while blindfolded. Can you do that? Yeah, me neither, but you must have something which make you puff out your chest with pride.
Now, it could be something as simple as doing 750 miles without a bathroom break, or most number of people transported in an MR2, or maybe you are some kind of Jedi master at ghost riding the whip? Whatever your mad skill, let us know. I, for one, am adroit at mirror-only backing, and I’m working on my blindfold parking – if only to have a conversation starter should I ever run into smoking hot Mandy Moore.
So, what’s your automotive claim to fame?
Image source: [seeingstars.com]

64 Comments

  1. After about 7 years of trying I finally managed to master the skill of backing up a trailer in a straight line about 3 years ago. Before that, you didn't want to be in line behind me at the boat ramp.

    1. I still have trouble with that one. When moving to Michigan from California I was going to pull around the back of a hotel only to find the road blocked about half way down. I wound up by backing the trailer into a ditch, turning the car, then pulling the trailer out.

      1. I've often said about the big semi-trucks: I could probably drive one down the road with a few minutes of training, but it takes true skill to back a 40' trailer into a dock with about 2 feet of clearance on each side. I have no clue how guys back the double trailers.
        I actually finally mastered the skill while moving. We were just doing a cross town move and had several months to move. We used my father-in-law's 12' utility trailer many times, I finally got the hang of it.

          1. I pulled doubles for many years, and if you were fortunate enough to get to a dock that allowed you to get straight in front of the door you were backing into, you could usually get the second trailer to the door before dropping that trailer and the converter-gear (that connects the two) before putting the first trailer into its door.
            Most docks didn't have this much room, but we always tried.

          2. You sir have the tip of my hat. Having plenty enough fun in a Jeep with any trailer backing up, I salute anyone that can do this with a snub nose tractor, or any other tractor.
            I'll be calling you if one of these shows up…
            <img src=http://sbelen.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/road-train-truck-02.jpg>

          3. Ha! We used to make up things like this when the Boss was out of town and see if anyone could back them up more than a few feet.

  2. I'm proficient at parallel parking, but don't consider it a particularly challenging task. My most impressive move was e-brake parking, though. I lived downtown and had a spot up next to some equipment that never had anyone parked next to it. I would accelerate toward the spot, cut the wheel, and pull the e-brake. (FWD car, by the way.) I eventually got it to where I was able to reliably center the car in the spot, without any adjustments, after the move. I didn't think that much about it until someone was following me. After I completed the move, he jumped out of the car and just shouted "YES!! That is the coolest thing I have EVER seen!" I don't know if I could do it nowadays without some serious practice ahead of time.

  3. I tried practicing my Scandinavian Flick this winter. I'm still not exactly proficient at it, though. I can parallel park with the best of them, which doesn't seem like much until you realize it's no longer required and a dying skill.
    The best driving move I have is telling other driver's they are number one.

    1. You know, when I lived in the city, I could parallel park like a master, even with my Cadillac Limo. Now that I live in the sticks, this is a skill that has atrophied. I tried to parallel park my little F100 not long ago, in a tight space, and I failed. Couldn't believe it. That's a skill that must be practiced, or lost.

  4. The Scandinavian flick. Just the other day I was driving home in the P5, running through a set of uphill twisties. Mid way through a left hander, I feel the right rear wheel contact a snow bank. Didn't even realize I was _that_ sideways. It's just how the car corners in the winter.

  5. I'd say that my best move is continuing to convince Mrs. PFG that parenthood should not preclude a man from driving a two-place sports car to work.

    1. No kids for me and Mrs. P161911 yet. When I brought home the Z3 the neighbor, with 4 kids, asked "What about a place for a car seat?" I said I would get a luggage rack for the trunk.

  6. When I was moving from Lexington, I backed a 23' U-Haul in a sharp-right turn from an extremely busy two-lane urban thoroughfare, across a tiny front yard right square into the front doorway – in one shot, with no unreasonable traffic holdups, no clipping of mailboxes and the like, ending with the truck's front bumper squarely at the very edge of the street (an inch more, or having to recorrect, would have disrupted legendary impatient and unforgiving traffic). When I got out of the truck my neighbor ran out to ask just how I managed to pull that off so smoothly. I didn't dare acknowledge that it might – just might – have had as much to do with dumb luck as skill…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~
    Then there's when the Hand of God Himself took his index finger, and flicked the back of my '88 T-Bird into a spin across 2 lanes of a apocalyptic iced-over I-65 in Indiana. Surreal: one moment I'm barely past idling along with the rest of traffic, the next I'm flying toward the center ditch through no fault of my own – OMGWTF?! Reflexes engage, I saw and spin and work wheel and pedals to the best of my ability, spin-sliding back and forth (have you ANY idea how NARROW two unplowed lanes are when breaching the shoulders can mean certain doom), finally using a glancing blow off a thick berm of snow to right the car forward straight into the left lane, instead of joining the dozens of other shoulder/ditch casualties that had been strewn abandoned for the last 50 miles…
    …I barely regain enough cognizance to check the seat for stains when the CB cracks: "Sheeit, you see that? I don't know who's in that old T-bird up there but he just did a hell of a job saving that thing!" I prob'ly could have beamed myself back to Chicago at that point if I'd thought of it.

  7. 20mph in first gear. Mash the throttle and put it into a smoky posi sideways burnout, then snap the ass back around and get up to 50mph and be GONE.

  8. The ability to contain my road rage to within the confines of my own vehicle… even though it may some day give me a heart attack.
    Also, growing up in the Boston area taught me how to parallel park in .3 seconds otherwise a cab driver/Duck Tours vehicle/tourist/commercial truck would smash into you

  9. I don't really do any "stunts", per se. Sure, e-brake turns and Scandinavian flicks, but those are more just techniques you use in the winter to maintain control of your car. I was rather impressed to learn that there was a name for a move I'd been doing for years!
    My "best move", however, would have to be my ability to take windy mountain roads at high speeds. I'm very good at reading a corner and knowing how fast I can take it. I outran an older Impreza (It had the big nose scoop and silly f-g-lights, but I can't say for sure whether it was a WRX or STI or whatever acronym they're throwing at them now) on the Nancy Greene Highway… in my Rambler. Squishy suspension, three-on-the-tree, auto overdrive. Nothing there designed to make it a canyon-carving monster, but I know how to set up for a corner, and how to read it.
    Not sure if they do it this way in the 'States, but corners up here have a sort of "rating" system. Every corner is marked by a recommended speed. For your average driver*, a corner just with the bent arrow means "proceed as normal". An 80 km/h-rated corner means you're safe at any speed up to about 110. A 70 corner means you might want to back off the throttle, but braking is unnecessary. A 60 corner means you back off the throttle and cover the brake, maybe tap them once depending on the speed. And a 50 corner or below means "JUST SLOW DOWN."
    I'll happily take a 60 corner at full speed if there's good visibility, and if nobody is around, even a 50 or 40 corner can be taken at an easy 110 or 120 km/h if you know how to read the corner, pretty much regardless of the car.
    *meaning "anyone other than a driver from the prairies". These people really should be required to take a separate series of driving tests before they're allowed out of their province/state.

  10. The gnash-free double clutch downshift into second in the Alfa. Boring? Yes. Better than listening to "Grrkkkkkkkkkk"? Yes.

  11. E-brake slides into a parking space/my exactly one car wide, townhouse driveway/around any 45 corner in my Element. If I can, I will. I also have a strange ability to parallel park correctly the first time, every time.

  12. I can parallel park like no ones business. Backing up with trailers? – Pretty darn good at it due to my formative years driving a landscaping truck. I also have an uncanny ability to drive just inches away from other cars which comes in handy when fighting taxis either in NYC or here in Philly.

  13. My all-time best move on four wheels started on accident and I just kinda went with it. Back in the 80's when I was still a bit of a pup driver and had my VW Bug (car #4). I was out with a friend on a winter late afternoon. It had snowed enough to stick AND need plowing that year (rare in the High Desert of SoCal). My heater/defroster was having issues at that point (shocking, I know) so my front view was akin to an oldster with severe cataracts. I didn't exactly see the dense snow berm piled on the side of the road before I hit it and found myself on two wheels.
    While my buddy had a death grip on the "oh shit" loop and was (appropriately) muttering "ohshitohshitohshit" like a mantra, I kinda just went with it to see how far I could go. We went on what I'm sure felt to him like miles but was in reality about 100 feet max before the right side came back down. It was an exhillerating experience that I'm quite sure I'll NEVER do again, accidentally or otherwise.
    My God, did that bug ever put up with serious abuse. The following winter when I was home for Christmas the car died a fiery death. But that's another no-heater-in-winter story for another time.

  14. 30 year old MGs and Datsuns don't give you much to work with, burnouts don't happen and donuts consist of slow circles with barely any squealing, let alone anything to be proud of. However one night I tried a Jame Garner in the wife's MG and got it 1/4 way around. Whoo-Hoo!!
    One thing led to another and I discovered that I could do a BADASS reverse donut, just like a regular donut but in reverse. The centrifugal force from the weight of the motor swings that front end around like a cat stuck on a string on a ceiling fan!! And it get's wilder the longer you stay on the gas. I spun that poor car around in a HUGE cloud of smoke until I noticed the motor was starving for oil and the wife's face was turning green.
    Just then the Highway Patrol rolled up on the other side of the fence on the freeway and lit us up with a spot light.
    "SEE!?!?!?" Came angry words from the passenger seat.
    All in all it was a pretty good date night.

  15. I had a nice little reverse spin trick going a few winters ago in the ice coated parking lot of the grocery store in the small town where I lived. I'd back out of my spot near the building, build a little speed, hit the brake while cranking the wheel, get the car 150-180 degrees around and drive away without stopping.

  16. Being able to work any manual gearbox on a car or truck. At least that is what my friends tell me is uncanny about my driving skills, so I end up driving the moving truck for them. I need new friends.

  17. Pffft. I did that (but WAY better) when I was 15 in my 1992 Lumina Z34. The girl I was trying to get was in the passenger seat. She decided I was crazy and never talked to me again.

  18. I'm really good at doing the trick in the video, but backwards. I start out groing really fast in one direction and then end up stopped facing the other way, in a cloud tire smoke.

    1. I learned while trying, not too successfully, autocross my 77 Corvette while in college, that you can actually stall an automatic transmission. They don't like it when the wheels start spinning the other direction.

  19. Are you a master at parallel parking?
    Only if you double the video speed.
    Does your narrow driveway backing ability cause women to fan themselves…
    Well, I hit her house, made sure there was no damage, and took off… so maybe.
    I'm pretty good at low-speed gravel drifting, but a trained chimp could say that. It'd have to be really well-trained to actually say it, though.
    I guess my finest skill is constantly speeding and never getting a ticket… though I'm careful when there's any likelihood of police presence, so that doesn't count either. And backing into narrow spaces with a car is a piece of cake, so I can't claim that.
    Hmm. I dunno.

  20. I'm a late-braker among late-brakers, but anything I can do behind the wheel can be taught to most anyone else. The only time I feel worthy of a compliment is when someone looks over and says, "Holy shit, are we really going that fast?" Around the office, "He's a crazy driver!" is met with "You slept like a baby while I was driving."

  21. I managed to master the art of the manual-transmission brakestand without breaking any parts. I'm pretty proud of that. I can also do a passable heel-and-toe in the GTO. Doesn't sound too interesting until you realize that the damn pedals are sixty four feet apart.

  22. I have the innate ability to know a cars dimensions upon sitting in the drivers seat. Squeezing into tight spots, outrunning baddies by going under 18-wheelers, ramping onto garbage boats, and getting 4 cars into a 2 car garage is how this skill pays off. So, its not nearly as awesome as the Scandinavian Flick.

  23. I don't really do any "stunts", per se. Sure, e-brake turns and Scandinavian flicks, but those are more just techniques you use in the winter to maintain control of your car. I was rather impressed to learn that there was a name for a move I'd been doing for years!
    My "best move", however, would have to be my ability to take windy mountain roads at high speeds. I'm very good at reading a corner and knowing how fast I can take it. I outran an older Impreza (It had the big nose scoop and silly f-g-lights, but I can't say for sure whether it was a WRX or STI or whatever acronym they're throwing at them now) on the Nancy Greene Highway… in my Rambler. Squishy suspension, three-on-the-tree, auto overdrive. Nothing there designed to make it a canyon-carving monster, but I know how to set up for a corner, and how to read it.
    Not sure if they do it this way in the 'States, but corners up here have a sort of "rating" system. Every corner is marked by a recommended speed. For your average driver*, a corner just with the bent arrow means "proceed as normal". An 80 km/h-rated corner means you're safe at any speed up to about 110. A 70 corner means you might want to back off the throttle, but braking is unnecessary. A 60 corner means you back off the throttle and cover the brake, maybe tap them once depending on the speed. And a 50 corner or below means "JUST SLOW DOWN."
    I'll happily take a 60 corner at full speed if there's good visibility, and if nobody is around, even a 50 or 40 corner can be taken at an easy 110 or 120 km/h if you know how to read the corner, pretty much regardless of the car.
    *meaning "anyone other than a driver from the prairies". These people really should be required to take a separate series of driving tests before they're allowed out of their province/state.

    1. They use a similar system here in the US, but not all corners will be rated per se. Most rural roads, etc… it's anybody's guess (depending on the whims of the presiding DOT). Interstates and major roads are usually well-marked, and I have also deduced about 30mph margin of error/safety (depending on driver skill, vehicle type, and conditions).
      When we first started dating, my wife used to give me a hard time about hooning a Ford Aerostar at 60 mph on a cloverleaf rated for 30. Would I do that in a truck or an unfamiliar vehicle? Hell no. And 45 was too much for my '97 Bird in the snow. It's all relative.
      And yes, there is no greater joy than schooling someone else who is driving a superior car. Or at least keeping pace. Driving that same Ford Aerostar, I secured a thumbs-up from a Porsche 944 (don't ask me how as I will plead the 5th)…

      1. I once got a thumbs-up from a driver in a 1st gen Eclipse. I know, not the world's fastest car, but I was driving a 1984 Plymouth Reliant. Hee hee!

      2. One of life's little joys while learning to drive was finding the speed at which my mom's Dodge minivan would understeer on an off-ramp. I think it was about 45 or 50.

      3. dude, you still haven't really ever gotten a good look at that ledge that made me and the other passenger fear for our lives. LOL. I have to admit, though, you always get us where we're headed in one piece. Sometimes, though, a change of clothes maybe necessary and thankfully, our girls don't get car sick.

    2. Yes, quite a few of these prairie drivers are (in the words of folk singer James Keelaghan) "Heroes on the Straightaway and chickens on the curve", which frustrate the hell out of Truck Drivers and you BC natives.

    3. I alway thought the proper way to take a corner was with the tires squealing and on the edge of controllability. Mrs. engineerd doesn't even say anything now. I think she's actually grown to like it.

    4. As a Coloradan, I can attest to the ineptitude of "flatlanders" (as we call them) at driving through the mountains. It doesn't help that many are tourists who slow down to gawk at the local flora/fauna/geography.

  24. My claim to fame used to be backing in to a loading dock "blind side" and ending up with my tractor (truck) jack-knifed so other vehicles could pass in front.

  25. Once, while visiting some friends who were attending UCLA, we took the Saab out for dinner and the Valet busted the shift linkage (it happens a lot, and it's why I will never again valet park a Saab). This left me with only 3rd and 4th gear for the drive home. Not too big a deal until I had to find a parking space in Westwood on a Friday night. The roads around there are incredibly steep, and a parking space is worth its weight (volume?) in gold. We happened upon a spot about 6 inches longer than the Saab, and I told my friends to get out. I pointed the car uphill, and by using gravity and a whole lot of clutch slip, squeezed the car in the space. That was probably the pinnacle of my driving life.
    So far as everyday skills, I am proud of my ability to exactly estimate an ETA over several hundred mile road trips. Not the sexiest stunt, but considering the unpredictability of SoCal traffic, I think it's pretty useful. It helps that my friends can always plan on an EXACT to-the-minute time of arrival. Once, I was 19 seconds late, and this was actually a subject of embarrassment.

  26. I invented and mastered the "Self-perpetuating extreme reverse FWD sno-nut."
    In an icy parking lot, I could put my old '81 Tercel 2-door in reverse, mash the throttle and just as it started to move, turn the wheel to full right lock as quickly as possible. If done just right, the steering would stay pinned at full lock. I could let go of the wheel and put both hands up on the headliner as the car kept pirouetting around in little more than its own length. Whoever was in the passenger seat would either laugh hysterically or freak out.
    I have tried it in other FWD cars, but every other car would just straighten out as soon as I let go of the wheel.

  27. Riding a bicycle as my primary means of transportation has taught me to use the minimum amount of braking to get through a corner. With a bike, carrying as much speed through a corner means that you use less energy pedaling later, and with a car it means that you go faster and use less gas.
    I was also rather proud of myself the first time that I successfully rev-matched a shift.

  28. Oh, man I wish I had the space here to document my scary moves driving a cab, an APC, Hertz rentals cars as an employee, various personal beaters, and ill-advised two wheeled maneuvers. However, here's a cab hoon.
    My favorite cab while a driver for City Cab in SLC a long time ago was an '84 Chevy Impala cop car, with 500 grand on the clock when it died. I put about 150 thousand of those miles on it. It was the beater of the fleet, but I liked the way it handled with the lowered (thrashed) springs. It still had the cop sway bars, and the company kept shocks under it, so it handled like a Camaro. Its 350 ran fairly strong, and it was on its fourth transmission during my tenure.
    I beat that car like a redheaded stepchild. Cabdrivers are tough on their cars, but I leased this beater from the company on a nightly basis, and nobody else liked driving it. I got away with thrashing it hard, and the company was happy that I liked driving it. I could thread traffic with it like a needle, with or without fares. Once, the exhaust system fell off short of the catalytic converter and I drove it for the rest of the shift anyway, just to hear the SBC unmuffled. The passengers seemed to like it, especially some Italians whom I gave nice ride to, telling them that I had experience driving there, and showed them. I think I made them homesick.
    I distinctly remember pulling up to a railroad crossing at Fourth West, chasing a fare, trying to be slick. I could have crossed over the tracks at North Temple, but was trying to beat traffic by taking back streets. Dammit, a train beat me to it. I could have waited out the train, but a real grody wino started approaching the car, and I didn't feel like dealing with him. I slammed the car in reverse, and punched it, executing a textbook perfect reverse bootleg turn, and laid positraction rubber leaving there. Nobody but that wino saw that spin, and I didn't even realize how perfect it was until I realized how nicely i had pulled it off without thinking about it. Just try to do that kind of thing with your buddies watching, and you'll fuck it up bigtime. That's just the way it goes.

  29. Driving a Municipal Snow-Plow. I know lot's of you hate us, and while some of my co-workers take great joy in messing with people, most of us are just like you with families and older relatives so we really try to not to screw you over. Sometimes there's no where else to put the snow but your driveway, but trust me, we know we're screwing you and are hoping the guy plowing our street isn't doing the same. But because you can't see how big the windrow is coming off the right-side of the blade and your bosses are constantly harping on you to get it all the way to the sidewalk, you tend to get really close to things. This makes things quite intense, and after back-to-back 12 hour shifts, you sometimes forget the decorum about the driveways.

  30. Skill No. 1: Parrallel parking a 5-spd Impreza on a 30% grade. Mrs. Ssurfer was thoroughly impressed by my handbrake use.
    Skill No. 2: Navigating hwy traffic w/o slowing. I zig, zag and weave through the traffic, sometimes scaring the passenger in the F150, to emerge unscathed at the front of the pack. I actually received a thumbs up from a Porsche driver last week who was following me through traffic.

  31. I can drive a stick, and I'm not too bad at parallel parking. I haven't totaled a car or gotten a speeding ticket yet. Yes, all of this is pretty unremarkable stuff, but I'm 18, so among my contemporaries, this is amazing.
    Now I just need to learn to heel-toe.

  32. Little late to this party (been too busy to keep up with the internet), but I am a ninja at driving a stick, smoking and talking on a cell phone…in DC, one of the most hellish driving cities I've ever been to. I think that counts for something.

  33. back in my ricer years… 1990 honda prelude…i lost the entire car in a cloud of smoke by doing a "roll back" in traffic at a red light
    for those that dont know, a roll back is where you drive backwards really fast, keep the revs up in neutral, and jam it into first/Drive and dump the clutch while putting your foot thru the gas pedal. all without the e-brake (mine was cut)
    mind you, i was neither the front car or last car, but was centered at a 4 lane red light

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